Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So Much For That

I made a really sad discovery last night. I was looking up baby names, as we haven't really firmed any up, yet, though I was heavily, heavily leaning toward a particular girl's name. It was perfect because it was unusual, without sounding made up, it had a cool meaning and I didn't know a single soul in the world with this name.

Then I looked it up online and found that there is someone associated with this name and um, well, she makes the kinds of films that you don't want your kids to ever see. Ewww. I shouldn't let something like that bother me, but there are many different reasons we choose the names we do for our kids, and even more reasons we dismiss countless others. You know what I'm talking about:

Nope, can't do that was my ex-boyfriend's name.
Nope, can't do that one... the other kids will rhyme it with "Reefer".
Nope, I had a mean great aunt with that name. It's a pretty name, but she was really mean!
Nope, don't like that. The first letter is the same as our last name.
Nope, that's that actress you've always had a crush on. You're not fooling anyone.

Honestly, it's amazing people are ever able to agree. But then one of you comes up with the perfect name and you look at each other, nodding, "hey...yeah, that works. I really like that."

Well, at least until you find out it's the same name as some creepy porn star. Oh well.

I'm open for some new suggestions, people.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Just Let Them Enjoy The Dream

I recently came across a blog in which a soon-to-be first time dad chronicles he and his wife's preparations for the arrival of their bundle of joy. I only stopped to read one post, but it was short, so I read the preceding one and saw that they went on and on listing the items they intended to buy for baby, and the painstaking research that had gone into the selection of each item (crib, stroller, baby gym, etc.) and how they had weighed price vs. recommendations, so on and so forth. Then he did a bit on the baby room's colors. They had selected a gender neutral palette with a very elaborate theme, complete with mural and matching accessories.

It was very cute. But it really brought out the cynic in me, and I felt badly about that. I'm looking at all this preparation for things, while in some ways useful to the parents, (and in small part to the baby) and couldn't help but think, why are these people doing this to themselves? Why are they agonizing over which car seat cover will look best covered in baby's spit up and which crib- the walnut or the cherry finish - will baby NOT EVER want to sleep in for more than twenty minutes at a time? I just want to get ahold of this person and say, NONE of this will be important to you after this baby enters your life. Don't you get that??? You can't even begin to prepare for the changes you are about to face, and all these things aren't going to help you nearly as much as you think. Just go get some sleep. If you like to go out to eat and see movies in the theatre, then go and do it...often! While you still can! Turn off the tv and have some long conversations with each other, enjoy this time while this baby is as easy to care for as he/she ever will be. Be excited about the future, but don't sweat all those details. I know you're picturing this perfect room with all the perfect stuff, but really, none of it matters.

But then it hit me. They're doing just what I did. What we did. What all expectant parents do, right?

I read and researched, I painted the room... heck, I painted the crib! I fussed over pictures and curtains and bedding and put together a child's bookcase myself, while very heavy with child. I toiled and nested and dreamed a beautiful dream of my beautiful child sleeping beautifully still in his beautifully appointed room. In my dream everything was just so. And I held on tight to that dream until the day he was born.

And in an instant, it was gone.

But it was a wonderful time, all that dreaming and preparing and feeling like I was readying myself. And maybe in some ways I was. I think that incubation period is necessary and it's all just part of the becoming a parent process. In a very real way part of you dies when that new life is put in your arms. You are transformed, are being transformed, through your role as parent and you give in to it, because that's all you can do. It's who you are now. That time in the dream stage is when you're shrouded in a chrysalis. You're not certain what changes are taking place, but you can feel them, unmistakably, nonetheless. You have to enjoy that time. So indulge in it. Revel in it. Hold on to that perfect vision, there, guy whose name I don't know...

...And though you may have to let go of that one, some of your best dreams are yet to come.

You Know You Spend Too Much Time On The Computer When... overhear your two, young children role playing as Dora and Diego and your son says to his little sister, "Hey Dora, did you get any comments on your blog today?" and she responds, "Oh sure. Oh sure, I did."

Hmm. Time to go play outside, methinks.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

We Got The Beat

We got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time on Friday. Just the one heartbeat, thank you very much, all the family that has been teasing me about twins. Twins do run on both sides of our family and we've all kind of been wondering when they might turn up again. Not that I wouldn't consider that a huge blessing, because I'm sure I would, once the initial shock wore off three years later.

It took more than a few minutes for my midwife to find it, but once she did it was loud, fast and unmistakable. Though I never for a second doubted there was a baby in there, there is something very grounding about hearing that sound. It really brings you into the reality and the hugeness of that life you are carrying, but still don't yet know. I'm looking forward to getting to finally meet the little dickens. But in the meantime I'm enjoying eating well and napping, whenever I can.

And we're still working out names. Usually by now Ernesto and I have come to some agreement, but we're still a bit up in the air right now. The kids' favorites so far are Biff for a boy and Shu-Shu for a girl. Unfortunately for them their vote doesn't count.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Deliver Me From Six Flags

Who wants to spend over a hundred dollars for six hours of ho-humish-ness on their day off?

Who wants to be hot, sweaty and stinky, surrounded by 2000 other people who are all hot, sweaty and stinky?

Who wants to push a stroller around for an hour trying to get your child to nap while regressive teenagers hurl footballs and obscenities through the air as you stroll by?

Who wants to pay $20 for a quart of water?

Who wants to wait in line for an hour in the rain to go on a raft ride (in the rain) that lasts one minute?

Who wants to walk a mile to get out of the park, only to stand in torrential rains with thunder and lightning, while people scream as if they were under attack by aliens?

What's that? YOU do? Well Six Flags is the place for you my friend!!

Now, it wasn't all bad. We got to have a great visit with our family and my nephews and the kids all had a great time regardless. Well, except for the standing in the pouring rain bit. But you know these things always seem like a good idea at the time. And they do have a lot of kiddie rides, but if it weren't for the fact our youngest children are particularly tall for their ages, (the minimal height requirement for any ride is 36") they wouldn't have been able to ride anything at all. I think a discount should also be in order for parents of small children who aren't going to be able to go on anything all day anyway, because they spend the day trying to get their own kids off and on rides. Okay, that's not entirely true. I got to go on the "Crazy School Bus" ride with the kids, who thought it was great. I thought I was going to hurl and frankly I'm surprised I didn't.

My favorite part of the day was watching kids "sweep up" in the Paul Bunyan lumber yard. It's like this tree house with ladders, slides and bridges and there's all this sawdust everywhere and brooms so the kids can sweep it up. And they do!! I was shocked when I saw David pick one up and go to work. You mean all I have to do is stop doing housework until the dust is an inch thick and the kids will just clean it up? Sweet!

But it was a nice way to wrap up summer. After we dried off the kids and strapped them into the minivan, we relaxed, had some snacks, and were even able to laugh about the day during the ride back to the house. Oh, and I got to sit next to two four year old boys who found more than a dozen ways to use the word "poop" in a sentence.

Good times. Good times.

My Kids Need To Watch More HGTV

I recently saw a few episodes from the show Design Star through the On Demand feature on my cable. I don't actually get HGTV anymore, since we are opting for the most basic cable plan, but I do get the On Demand feature which allows me to view some of the shows. They recently aired the whole DS series which is more or less American Idol for interior decorators who want their own HGTV show. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing and I watched the series in bits and pieces and they had one episode in which all the designers had to decorate a blank space using materials from random stores, like a pet or an automotive supplier. They came up with some wild designs, and I was reminded somewhat of that episode when I saw how my two children worked together to redecorate the look of the bathroom. I was cleaning up around the house when I heard them working well together on something involving "stickers". I didn't go try and interrupt them because they sounded like they were having a lot of fun and they were being so quiet. Suddenly I thought, "Oh, they're being really quiet." Unless they're sleeping, that's not usually a good thing.

They used their own "found objects" to creatively transform the space. What they found were the stickers I use to track my fertility (guess I don't need those anymore!) and had a little field day with them. I liked it so much I didn't peel them off for almost a week. Okay, that's not true, I just didn't want to sit for twenty minutes and peel each one off. Sofia helped me with it today and then I found the ones they'd put on the radiator in the living room. I'm wondering where else they may turn up.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Post Not Intended For Those Considering A First Time Pregnancy

They say that each pregnancy you have is different. Entering my second trimester while carrying Sofia, I would have told you that wasn't true, at least not for me. Everything was the same as I had experienced it with David:

Only the slightest bit of "ooginess" for about 20-30 minutes each morning, during which I would just sit still on the couch or at the kitchen table sipping water until I felt better. Check.

Annoying shortness of breath sensation from about 5 weeks onward, actually caused by hormones, not really related to the lungs themselves. Check.

Absolute, ravenous hunger for entire first trimester, eating whatever was within reach, from morning until night. Especially craving cottage cheese. Mmmm, cottage cheese. Check.

Constant compulsion to nap. Check.

I had all these symptoms with David. I had them all with Sofia. Things were just as I remembered them. David was a big baby, born at 9 lbs, 7 oz. and 23 inches long. 26 hour labor, no drugs. After him I felt like I could take over the world. After about a month of sleep, of course. I imagined the next birth to be a lot like the first. But then things with Sofia changed. At about five months into my pregnancy a new sensation emerged. It was the feeling that I was no longer carrying an infant in my womb, but rather several bowling balls that at any second were going to drop right out of me and go crashing through the floor boards, into the basement. It was awful. Really awful. This is what I felt at the very end of my pregnancy with David, only during the last week or so. Why was this happening so soon? My midwives didn't seem concerned. They said the second you often carry lower because of the muscles having loosened up, etc. etc. That seemed logical enough but this feeling did not feel right. I wore one of those awful belts to help support my gianormous belly, but it didn't do much. Two weeks before I was due I was having a check up and I asked my midwife about how big she guessed the baby would be. She felt my belly and poked and prodded for a few minutes and then she stopped and frowned.

"Well, that's not right," she said.

Immediately I begin panicking. The baby has three legs. Or maybe two butts. I knew something was not right. I just knew it. "What is it?" I whisper.

"I think she's breech."

Huh. I wasn't expecting that. In fact that was one of the things I never worried about for a second. Only 3% of babies are born breech so as odds go it wasn't on my list of likely problems.
She brought in a portable ultrasound machine and confirmed her suspicions. She pointed out the head and legs to me but I had to take her word for it because the image was too grainy and I couldn't make out a thing.

Since doctors and midwives nowadays have very little experience delivering breech babies (except by c-section) I was instructed on how to do exercises to try and "turn" Sofia into the head first position. I did a modified "downward dog" (or whatever it was) move faithfully for the last two weeks of my pregnancy, but it didn't work. Then the doctors tried an "external version". Oh, good times. Then they tried it again the morning I came in with contractions, thinking I was in the early stages of labor. Still nothing. A nurse confided in me while she was checking my chart that there's "usually a reason the baby won't turn. Babies know best," She assured me, smiling. She was right. After a successful c-section they saw that the umbilical cord was wrapped all around her neck and had she turned...well, baby knows best.

So there you have it. Two very different pregnancies, two radically different deliveries. Two unique, awesome little people.

This one is going his/her own course as well. So far it's the, "constant discomfort in my lower back and sometimes very oogy in the morning, sometimes not" pregnancy.

But just like the others, this baby likes the cottage cheese, too. Mmm. Cottage cheese. Check.

She's Going To Be The Sassy One

Sofia and I were heading downstairs after having spent a good half hour or so playing with her Fischer Price doll house in her room, when I attempted to hold her hand as she went down the stairs. Now she hasn't needed any help on the stairs since she was one and a half, but you know she's right there with me, so my instinct is to reach out and hold her hand.

"I don't need to you hold my hand, mama. I'll just hold onto the wall," she says as her right hand brushes the undersides of the framed photos on the stairwell wall, tipping them all a bit askew as she goes.

"That's okay. I know you don't need help. I just wanted to hold your hand," I explain.

"See how I walk down the steps, mommy? I just take steps and go, 'walk, walk, walk'. See? it's easy for me!" She smiles up at me.

"Okay, Sofi. I see how you do it. You don't need any help." We get to the bottom of the stairs and she pauses, lifting one knee especially high, then looking at me.

"Now, see how I walk on the floor? I just take some more steps and go, 'walk... walk... walk'. (As she takes super-sized, John Cleese "ministry of silly walks" type steps). See how easy that is, mommy?"

"Yes, you've made your point."

And in her best Dustin Hoffman, "I'm a very good walker."

Lord help me when she turns 12.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pluot, anyone?

If you haven't tried these, you should. The kids and I needed to get groceries so we headed over to Stop and Shop this morning, and while trying to decide what kind of fruit to get this week, I came across Pluots. They looked kind of cool (like a dappled, pinkish plum) and I like to get something a little different now and then so the kids can try something new. I just cut some up for a snack and I've never seen the kids eat anything so quickly. I thought perhaps they were filled with chocolate or caramel. They are pretty sweet and the skins don't have that tangy, bitter thing going on, and you don't have to hose down your face after you eat them. They are an ideal fruit for little kids. They also came with little dinosaur stickers on them, which was a clever marketing strategy.

Okay, I've never blogged about fruit before, so you know it must be something special. Go get some and tell them Kbawlz sent ya.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Anxious Patient

David turned four a couple days ago and yesterday he had his annual checkup at the pediatrician's office. All morning while I was getting the kids ready to go he kept asking me if he would need to get any shots. I honestly couldn't remember from his physical last year what they had said regarding his next round of boosters, and it was a different pediatrician's office, in another state, so I didn't know how their immunization schedule would jive with our current office's. I told him, "I don't really know David. I thought they had said you wouldn't need any more shots for a few more years, but I don't really know. We'll have to wait and see."

I could see him working this through his head and the anxiety was already mounting, before we had even left. I wasn't about to trick him into thinking he wasn't getting any, when I had no idea. I wanted to try and assuage his fears a little, so I asked if he remembered the last shot he got. He said he didn't. Last Fall he had gotten a flu vaccination, and it wasn't even his checkup. I had brought Sofia in for her 18 month visit and they offered both children the vaccine. I felt awful having him get a shot when it wasn't even his turn to see the doctor, but he happily obliged and even offered to go first, to show Sofia that it wasn't that bad! What a trooper! I couldn't believe he had made such a gesture and he was fine, didn't fuss a bit and then Sofia got her shot and didn't cry at all. The nurse was amazed. She had said, "if only they could all be like this."

Then the four-year check up came. Even though David had made it through that last shot with flying colors, he had himself all worked up that if there were going to be shots, he was not having any of it.

In the car on the way to the office:

David: Am I going to need a shot?
Me: Honey, I really don't know, but if you do, it's just a little pinch for a few seconds and that's it. Isn't that better than getting really sick with a nasty virus for weeks and weeks?
David: Would being sick be worse than a shot?
Me: Yes! Much worse! You'd be in bed all day, you wouldn't be able to see your friends for a long time. Wouldn't that be sad?
David: (Nodding) But is it going to hurt? Do they leave the needle in?
Me: No, they don't leave the needle in. They take it right out. It's really not that bad.
This whole time I'm thinking, please, don't give him any shots today...

So we get to the office and the first question David asks the nurse is, "Am I going to need a shot?" He's looking brave enough, asking the tough questions, right up front.

Looking at his chart, the nurse says, "Um, yup, you'll get three, but not until the end of the..."
David: AAAUUUUUGGGHHHH!!! (the flood gates open)
The nurse, all frazzled now: "But not right now and it's better if you just don't think about it..."

So I'm holding David, trying to tell him it's going to be fine and doesn't he remember how well he did last time and meanwhile Sofia is jumping on and off the scale, making this loud "clankity-clank" sound while intermittently fishing through the garbage can. You know, I can take these two just about anywhere and they do great, but get them into a 8x9 room filled with medical equipment and they go nutty. Getting them to keep their hands to themselves and sit still is like trying to get Robin Williams to stop interrupting the host with his jokes during an interview. It simply cannot be done.

So at the end of the exam, the nurse comes back in and we prep him for the shots. He's sitting on my lap and he's got one arm around me and I'm holding his other so it doesn't go every which way and she administers the shot. He doesn't even flinch. We're all like, see that wasn't so bad, right?

David: "I like shots!"
The nurse: "Oh, well that's good because we've got another one."
David: "It didn't hurt mommy! It wasn't even..." she gives him the second. His face freezes, the picture of anguish. "AAAUUUGGGHHH!!! I don't like shots!" I guess he spoke too soon.

We get through the third and for some reason that one didn't hurt. He got three cool bandages and then got to pick out three stickers this time. The nurse did a good job of telling him how great he did and how brave he was. She then assured me he wouldn't need any more vaccines (other than flu shots) until he turned 11. I'm going to hold her to that, because next time I'm coming in I'm going to have three with me and there's no telling what they may do to that room. Or what I won't stop them from doing to that room.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All You Ever Wanted To Know About Niagara Falls

I never gave too much thought about going to Niagara Falls. It was one of those places that was always not too far away, so I figured some day I would see it, but no rush. It was kind of the way I felt about Canada in general- it was close enough that I knew I would make it there eventually. I'm glad that our trip to Ohio to visit my sister finally brought us out that way. It seemed like the perfect place to break up our long drive and spend a couple nights.

The falls themselves are really cool. They didn't look how I imgained. For some crazy reason I thought the drop would be taller, but each set of falls is about 170 feet high, so that's not too shabby. There are three sets of falls: The American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe/Canadian Falls. I had always thought growing up there was just one, giant waterfall. Oh, the things you don't learn in school. Anyway, The Horseshoe Falls is (yes, you guessed it) shaped like a big horseshoe. At its peak volume it pours out 600,000 gallons of water per second. That's where all those silly folks went over in barrels and what not. There aren't any rocks at the bottom to smash you to bits.

We got up close and personal with the Bridal Veil Falls as we took the "Cave of The Winds" tour. Now, they don't tell you this before you buy your ticket, but there is no longer an actual cave anymore. It's not safe to go into, so now it's more like the "Lots of winds and spray in your face" tour. We got pretty wet. They give you big ponchos and special shoes for walking on the wooden steps, but as you ascend you just get bombarded with spray and while it's kind of cool, the little ones don't care for it too much. It's kind of like taking a shower with all your clothes on. And then you get to stand in line while the next sorry group of tourists come down for their tour and they say things like, "Oh, look at you! You sure got soaked!" and you smile and nod and think, "Keep laughing, Mr. Madras shorts. You're next."

Now our hotel was on the NY side, and it was a bit more affordable than the Canadian side, but if you want a nice view of the falls, or you just want to stay out of Niagara Falls, NY, (which is a little on the seedy side) I would recommend putting up the extra dough. The park on the NY side over on Goat Island is really nice, though, and worth checking out because you get pretty close up to all the falls. And if you do stay in NY you can literally walk over a bridge to Canada (just don't forget your birth certificate-soon you will need your passport) and check out the beautiful gardens and many fun activities to be had over there. Our kids were too small for a lot of the entertainment- huge ferris wheel overlooking the falls, many haunted houses, DC Comics fun land, Spiderman rides, etc.- but if your kids are a little older they would have a blast here. Still, ours had a great time and we visited an indoor aviary that the kids just loved.

Oh, and at night they light up the falls in hues of pink, blue and green, which I'm sure looks really cool from the Canadian side. And I can see why this is known as a major honeymoon destination. There's something kind of intoxicating about the rush and constant roar of the water. Someday Ernesto and I will have to make it up there without the kids. Hee hee.

For a photo montage you can check out the ones we've uploaded to Flickr. I am too tired and lazy to put any more here. Oh, and if I look a little pudgier than usual in the pictures, blame the new camera. Or our baby who's due in April. Doh!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Still Goofy After All These Years

I'm anxious to get to the Niagara pictures, and the ones from our time in Ohio, but it will be a little work and this has turned into a busy weekend. Instead I have posted this picture, which I found today while searching for some other photos that I was planning to frame. This shot was taken some 23 years ago (give or take a year) on my birthday. Tomorrow marks another year on this earth for me, and while it's unlikely I'll be as enthusiastic about this one as I was for my tenth, I'm sure it will a good time nonetheless. I also won't likely be wearing a decorative shoelace in my hair, but hey, you never know what I may do.

The thing that is especially cool about this photo is that pictured on the left is my cousin Mike, who was my very good buddy growing up. He recently found me through my blog and we've since been catching up. So it was very strange that I should happen across this, the only picture I think I have here in my house with him in it. Okay, so I was going through EVERY photo album and box in my house, so it's not really that weird that I should have found it. But still very cool.